Courts rule that First Amendment does not bar clerical abuse suits
August 22, 2013
In separate decisions, a federal district judge and a Connecticut court have rejected dioceses’ arguments that the First Amendment bars lawsuits against clerical sexual abuse, according to the Religion Clause blog.
Rejecting a motion by the Diocese of Yakima, the federal judge ruled that “the Free Exercise Clause does not bar a negligence claim against Defendants for hiring [Deacon Aaron] Ramirez and placing him in a position of trust and authority from which he was able to sexually abuse Plaintiff.”
According to the BishopAccountability.org database, the deacon fled to Mexico after being accused of raping a 17-year-old male in 1999. Blessed John Paul II subsequently laicized the deacon, and he became an Episcopal priest.
In the other case, “a Connecticut trial court rejected the contention of a Catholic diocese that the First Amendment and the ministerial exception doctrine preclude civil courts from deciding claims against religious institutions growing out of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy,” according to the blog.
For all current news, visit our News home page.
- No 1st Amendment Bar To Suit Against Diocese Over Priest Sex Abuse (Religion Clause)
- Negligence Claim Against Diocese Over Rape by Deacon May Proceed (Religion Clause)
- Deacon Aaron Ramirez (BishopAccountability.org)
All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!
Posted by: -
Aug. 22, 2013 6:36 PM ET USA
The absurd argument posed by these dioceses is yet another embarassment for the Church in America. Lawyers, with no sense of what the Church is about, are apparently continuing to tell cowering bishops how to mount pathetic defenses in these cases. The abuse-and-coverup crisis is NOT over.
Posted by: Gil125 -
Aug. 22, 2013 3:12 PM ET USA
What an outrage! That anybody would CLAIM that the First Amendment protects child abusers---or their enablers!